Q&A: Alternative hay fever cures

  • Expert advice from HORSE magazine on choosing the best homeopathic remedies to relieve hay fever for horse and rider

    Q. It may seem strange, but my horse, a chestnutpart-Irish Draught gelding, and I seem to get hay fever at the same time each year. We both get runny eyes and noses which are worse when the pollen count is high. Is this possible and could you suggest any homeopathic remedies that may help him?

    Homeopathic vet Nick Thompson replies>: Homeopathy is actually a human form of medicine and we vets have taken it up because it is so useful.

    We often use textbooks written with human beings in mind and use computer programs designed for human studies in order to analyse our equine cases.

    Hay fever is a blight for humans and for some horses, too, occurring when the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract (nose, sinuses and throat etc) become sensitised to pollen.

    It is not the pollen itself that causes the problem. If it were, then everyone and every horse in the country would suffer, which is obviously not the case. The problem is the extent of the human or equine body’s response to it.

    The homeopathic approach seeks to move the body back into a more normal equilibrium with the pollen irritant. The remedies most commonly used to help with hay fever symptoms are:

    • Allium cepa: This remedy is useful when the horse is subject to bouts of sneezing, has a burning watery nasal discharge causing sore nostrils and when he is suffering from itchy and watering eyes. He may also have a tickly cough.
    • Ammonium mur: This will help with loss of smell, an itching and stuffy nose that is not cleared by snorting and sore nostrils.
    • Arundo: This helps with itchy eyes, ears and nose and general head irritation caused by sneezing.
    • Euphrasia: A helpful remedy when the patient is sneezing and has a watery nose (not sore), red eyes, burning tears and swollen lids. These horses will dislike bright lights, will seem dull and may hold their heads to one side.
    • Gelsemium: This can help where there is violent sneezing and a coughwith a runny nose or soreness with little nasal discharge. The horse’s eyes are often swollen and hot, as is the whole face.
    • Sabadilla: This should be brought out when the horse has bouts of sneezing, profuse watery nasal discharge,sensitivity to strong scents and is repeatedly swallowing and chewing.

    The remedies listed above are all suitable for the symptoms that you describe, but have subtle differences.

    Mixed grasses/mixed pollen 30c can also ease the symptoms of hay fever in some situations. There are no specific indications – it can be used in all the cases described above.

    Six or 30c potencies are fine for all the above remedies – one dose should be given two to four times a day. Reduce the dose ratewhen you see an improvement.

    If you see no response within seven days, reassess your remedy. If symptoms persist, consult your local complementary veterinary practitioner.

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